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Dec. 14, 2016

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What Credentials Do Employers Really Care About? 

"What the whole world wants is a good job," according to Brandon Busteed.
"That comes ahead of everything else that is important to human beings: health, happiness, safety, family.  ... We see accomplishing all of those things through having a good job."

Busteed is the director of education and workforce development at Gallup Education, famed for its polling. He told the audience at NEBHE's recent Talent 4.0 conference that the planet's real unemployment number is 1.8 billion, because that's how many people want a good job and don't have one. Even in the U.S., many people have stopped looking for work. And a lot of people lost high-skilled jobs and took lower-paying jobs. "One of the fundamental mission statements that ought to be part of higher education," he said, "is helping people find meaningful work."

Busteed asked who in the NEBHE audience had a college degree. Almost everyone did. "This is a very elite group," he warned. "If you step back, you realize that only 40% of U.S. adults have one of these things that pretty much everyone in the room has." Busteed added, however, that firms such as Goldman Sachs have moved away from hiring Ivy-only, because they worry about missing out on diverse talent pools. Moreover, few employers care about what discipline a prospective employee studied in college. They care much more whether the prospective employee had a job or internship related to the job they were seeking, according to Busteed.

On the same panel focused on employers' changing skill demands, David Leaser,
senior manager of strategic initiatives at IBM, noted that the computer giant used to sell its software on CDs and deliver it every 18 months; now with cloud development, that turnaround has dropped to 60 days. "So how is it possible that you could train someone in college or even in a code school and have them stay up to date if the changes are every 60 days?" asked Leaser. When thinking about credentials, he said, we need to look at "making sure people have verifiable achievements and marketable skills." He proposed "liquid skills" be added to college degrees.

Steve Lynch, director of workforce and economic development at Burning Glass Technologies, said the firm's goal is to crack and map the genome for jobs. Despite attention paid to the proliferation of "badges" and "microcredentials," Lynch reported that among  job ads that explicitly request credentials, most requested just one of 50 specific creds. "It's really challenging to create and grow a credential that has labor-market demand."   

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NEJHE NewsBlast  is a summary of  NEJHE  content and other news around NEBHE prepared weekly by  NEJHE  Executive Editor  John O. Harney  and emailed every Wednesday to opinion leaders and practitioners. When responding to  NEJHE content, please make sure that your remarks are relevant, courteous and engaging. Individuals are responsible for their comments, which do not represent the opinions of the New England Board of Higher Education. We urge commenters to briefly note their occupational or other interest in the topic at hand. Please refrain from offensive language, personal attacks and distasteful comments or they may be deleted. Comments may not appear immediately. Thank you for staying engaged. Join Our Mailing List!
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